New DARPA Grand Challenge for Humanoid Robots
It seems we’re going to have a new DARPA Grand Challenge! The BAA with formal details should be out very soon, but for now we’re bringing you the unofficial, preliminary details based on notes from Dr. Gill Pratt’s talk at DTRA Industry Day: The new Grand Challenge is for a humanoid robot (with a bias toward bipedal designs) that can be used in rough terrain and for industrial disasters.
The robot will be required to maneuver into and drive an open-frame vehicle (eg. tractor), proceed to a building and dismount, ingress through a locked door using a key, traverse a 100 meter rubble-strewn hallway, climb a ladder, locate a leaking pipe and seal it by closing off a nearby valve, and then replace a faulty pump to resume normal operations — all semi-autonomously with just “supervisory teleoperation.”
That’s a tough challenge, but it should be fun! It looks like there will be six hardware teams to develop new robots, and twelve software teams using a common platform (PETMAN anyone?!). The most crazy part about all of this: The United States is getting back into the humanoid robot game… in a big way!
For some time, I have heard musings about a new DARPA program in the wake of M3, ARM-S, and ARM-H. These three programs are all led by Dr. Gill Pratt, and have resulted in numerous high-profile robot projects, such as: inflatable robots, the ARM-H robot, and the Robot Cheetah. These are likely just the tip of the iceberg, as the programs are still underway.
Now… Gill is a tried-and-true roboticist (he used to run the MIT Leg Lab). So I’m sure the success of DARPA’s previous Grand Challenges (autonomous cars) were not lost on him: We need something like that for mobile manipulation. And well… this is DARPA, after all, so they’re going big.
The New Grand Challenge